I have enjoyed reading film novelizations since I was a wee lad. I have great memories of reading the STAR WARS and ALIEN novelizations long before I got to see the films and I've always thought that having those stories already present in my head when I sat down for my first viewing added to the experience. Usually though I have ended up reading the novelization well after seeing the film the book was based upon. There are a number of reasons for doing this. In my opinion the best reason is to see what changes were made to the finished film that stayed in the novel. These can be things as small as extra snatches of dialog or as big as entire sequences that didn't get filmed for various reasons. I always find the books interesting and quick reads even if they offer little in the way of top level writing or really anything more than simple, effective prose. But simple and effective prose is all these books require so when I read one of them I know what to expect.
Until now the only unifying trait tying all the novelizations I have read together would be that I actually liked the film being transmogrified into a book. That might seem like a given but I have finally broken that streak by reading a book based on a film I consider very, very bad. Indeed, I find INVASION USA (1984) so bad I entered it into our annual Turkey Night of Bad Cinema recently to introduce others to its incredible ridiculousness. So, why read the novelization of a terrible 80s action film starring renowned plank of wood Chuck Norris? This blog post by Joe Kenney over on GloriousTrash made it necessary.
So, now that I've read INVASION USA what do I think? Its a blast! Exactly as Mr. Kenney noted this version of the story actually makes sense. In the film Norris' blank-eyed hero Hunter seems to just repeatedly, magically appear where ever villain
terrorists are causing havoc. Hunter then mows the bad guys down with his
mini-submachine guns and then fades back into the night. Always the night. It
is this repeated pattern of superhuman ability to locate the bad guys followed
by near comic slaughter that makes the film so damned funny. But in the novel
we see that Hunter is smartly tracking reporters that are being tipped off by
the terrorists to increase the amount of news coverage each event receives. See
how easy that was to fix? Why is that not in the movie?
Also, the antagonism between Hunter and
Rostov is explained very well with a nightmare
flashback detailing the opportunity Hunter had to kill the dastardly fellow
several years before. This information makes Hunter's repeated use of the
phrase 'time to die' actually mean something in the narrative. It also makes Rostov's blind hatred for
Hunter clear and understandable which is far beyond what the film seems capable